Conditioners formulated for textured hair will typically contain
emollients and oils in a fairly high amount. This is because curly and
coily hair tends to be drier than other hair types. Now when it comes to
conditioners, there are so many types
available, and each one has its specific attributes and benefits to the
hair. For the purpose of this discussion I’ll refer to moisturizing
conditioners since this is the type of conditioner most curlies will be
Moisturizing conditioners typically increase the moisture content
of the hair, improve elasticity and manageability. They work to add and
retain moisture in the hair. Now when we talk about your hair needing
extra moisture that doesn’t mean oil. Hydration is a main characteristic
of water so increasing water really means replenishing water to the
hair, and preventing or minimizing it’s escape into the surrounding
environment. So anything that is going to help improve water retention
in the hair is ideal for dry textured hair. There are many ingredients
that will help and emollients and oils are among them. Additionally, using oils in conditioners can help nourish the scalp.
Which Oils Work Best in Conditioner?
There are several opinions about which oils are best for hair and
it’s really up to you which oils will work best for YOUR hair. However,
there are some oils that seem to work better than others. Oils with
low molecular weights or shorter fatty acid chains can penetrate the
hair cuticle. These oils include:
- coconut oil
- murumuru butter
- babassu oil
Other oils may be too long to penetrate into the cuticle,
and sit on top of the hair coating it increasing slip, improving
softness and manageability, and adding shine to the hair. All of these
benefits can remain even when the conditioner is rinsed from the hair. These oils are good for sealing versus moisturizing. They include:
- Jamaican black castor oil
- grapeseed oil
For dry hair, oils are important for another reason. Porosity
is a key factor in the ability of your hair to maintain moisture. The
more porous your hair is the more water it can absorb. Seems like a
great thing but there is a flip side to this – it will lose a lot of
moisture over time as well. Overly porous hair can be corrected with specific steps.
Additionally, conditioners that contain oils can help seal moisture
into the hair strand better than those without and this is important for
help to keep moisture in the hair.
Coconut Oil Versus Shea Butter
two oils that are commonly used are coconut oil and Shea butter. Coconut
oil is fantastic and there is a lot of science behind its benefits to
the hair. Some people have expressed that their often feels drier and
tangled from coconut oil and the Natural Haven has this comment to make about this experience:
“The straw like feel some people find with coconut oil is usually related to using too much product because coconut oil is not as viscous as other oils . Hardening of the hair is related usually to temperature because coconut oil solidifies at a fairly low temperature so a cold winter breeze can stiffen hair very fast.”
I personally have no issues with using coconut oil in my hair,
especially when it’s used with other conditioning ingredients in a
formula. My hair is extremely soft, flexible and moisturized. If you’ve
played around with coconut oil and have found no benefit to your hair
then leave it out or try fractionated coconut oil instead. It’s coconut
oil that’s had a number of fatty chains removed resulting in a very
light weight oil that still offers great moisture to the hair.
Shea butter helps to moisturize your scalp. It may be able to
penetrate the hair shaft to offer moisturizing and can create a light
occlusive layer to prevent further damage. It also contains allantoin
that will help with reducing inflammation and increasing cell
regeneration on your scalp.
The key to using conditioners with oils is really knowing why they
are in the product and how they will benefit your hair. They are there
to improve the condition of your hair, not make it worse.
For Part 1 of this series, click HERE!
This article was originally published on July 2013 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.